Tortured by the Palestinian police

Report highlights alarming rise in abuse while in police custody.

    Wisam said he was badly beaten in police custody
    Life goes on for Wisam Hanna as the wounds on his body heal, but the painful memories remain.


    Wisam and three of his relatives were interrogated by Palestinian police after a dispute with the mayor of their village. They were badly beaten.


    "It was very violent in the prison in Ramallah, where there were five people. They held me down, they lay me on the table, took my trousers off and started hitting me on the back of my legs and the soles of my feet," Wisam said.


    "Then they took my top off and made me stand in front of the window and started pulling my chest hairs out. Then they carried on slapping me and threw me onto the floor and started kicking me."


    Lack of trust


    Over the last few years, Palestinians have lost trust in their police force and the judiciary. Many of their complaints have never been answered.


    They held me down, they lay me on the table, took my trousers off and started hitting me"

    Wisam Hanna

    Most violations of citizens' rights go unpunished, but Wisam and his relatives had the courage to file a complaint.


    "[Wisam and his family] came to our offices in the late hours of that day. They exposed their bodies," Mamdouh Aker, civil rights commissioner-general, said.


    "Immediately we contacted the person in charge of that security apparatus. He promptly came to the office and listened to them. His immediate reaction was to apologise to them.


    "He suspended the officers who were involved and then they were totally dismissed from the [police] service."


    Report findings


    A recent report by the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens Rights shows that the number of violations against citizens has doubled in 2006.


    The commission blames the rise in violations on the shortcomings of the different branches of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

    Wisam showed Al Jazeera photographs
    of his severe injuries
    Torture in Palestinian police and security centres is an alarming phenomenon - the report documents 133 torture cases during 2006.


    Sixty-eight incidents of torture have been reported during the first quarter of 2007 alone, suggesting an alarming rise on the previous year.


    When Al Jazeera requested an interview with a police official over the torture allegations, we were told that the only person who can talk about the matter was out of the country.


    Wisam's case may not change immediately change methods of interrogation in Palestinian police stations.


    But human-rights organisations say the fact that action was taken in Wisam's case is a step in the right direction.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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